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Diocese of Balasore

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Diocese of Balasore
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The 25,918-square kilometer diocese covers the civil districts of Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar in eastern Orissa state. The territory of Balasore diocese was under the archdiocese of Calcutta until 1968.


As of 2015, the total population is 9,145,650.


Oriya, Hindi, Santhali, Ho, Bhumijo, Oraon, and Bengali are the main languages spoken in the diocesan territory.


The origin of Christianity in this part of northeastern Orissa can be traced to a 1514 Portuguese settlement in Pippilli. However, Balasore got a resident priest, Jesuit Father Sapport, only in 1865. He built a church (Lal Girja) in Balasore and started a foundling home, which the Daughters of the Cross later looked after. Father Sapport is considered the pioneer missionary in the area. In 1915, the Daughters of St Joseph of Chembery arrived and opened a convent and a school, which was functioning until 1938, in Balasore. Records show that many priests, including Jesuit Fathers Schaff, Gengler, A. Ville and Vritoff, were working in Balasore during the period 1880-1937.

The Maltese Dominicans took charge on Nov. 1, 1938, under the leadership of Father Gavriel. However, the Dominicans stayed only a short time and left on Jan. 1, 1941. During this time, however, an earthquake severely damaged the Lal Girja of Balasore, and the church was dismantled in 1940 on the written order of Jesuit Archbishop Ferdinand Perrier of Calcutta.

From 1941 until 1948, Balasore had to be content with visiting priests from Kharagpur. In 1948, Jesuit Father Joseph Visiak was appointed resident priest of Balasore, but he resided and established a church at Krishnachandrapur, because of the larger Christian community there. Diocesan priests from Cuttack rendered services in Balasore, Krishnachandrapur and Barbil from 1965-1968.

On June 8, 1968, the three Orissa districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar were separated from Calcutta archdiocese and formed into the apostolic prefecture of Balasore, in the ecclesiastical province of Ranchi. It was entrusted to the Congregation of the Mission. In 1974, the prefecture was placed under the ecclesiastical province of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

On June 14, 1968, Father Jacob Vadakeveetil, C.M. was appointed first apostolic administrator of Balasore and he took charge on Nov. 18 the same year. Msgr. Vadakeveetil guided the prefecture's destiny until Jan. 13, 1990, when he retired due to ill-health. On the same day Balasore was raised to the status of a diocese and Bishop Thiruthalil, who headed Berhampur diocese (Ganjam district) at the time, was transferred and appointed first bishop of Balasore.


Cities are managed by corporations. Villages and small towns are administered by panchayats and municipalities, respectively. These local bodies are elected.


The diocesan area is well connected in terms of transport infrastructure by roads and railways. The nearest airports are in Kolkata and Bhubaneshwar.


Per capita income is Rs 8,547 ($190) as of March 2011. Farming, especially rice, is the primary occupation. The two districts of Bhadrak and Keonjhar are rich in minerals, and several mines are situated in these areas.


Government and private operators provide extensive telecommunication facilities in the diocesan area. The diocese is well served by local cable TV networks.


Balasore has an average literacy rate of 88 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent. It is also the most literate town of Orissa.

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